1151 Ledge Road Hinckley, Ohio 44233Official Website
Hinckley Reservation is the southernmost outpost of the Cleveland Metroparks and arguably features the best overall birding. Its 2275 rolling acres contain the 90-acre Hinckley Lake with an attendant boathouse, two small fishing lakes, two swimming areas, large outcroppings of Sharon conglomerate ledges, the slowly-moving East Branch of the Rocky River, several small permanent streams, and most importantly, one of the largest contiguous blocks of mature deciduous forest in northeastern Ohio. The Ranger Station on Bellus Road, nearly opposite the West Drive entrance to the park, is a good place to seek information and view a map of park trails.
Although probably best known for its “Hinckley Buzzards”, Hinckley Reservation certainly deserves a wider and better birding reputation than one based solely on its Turkey Vultures. Turkey Vultures are indeed a prominent feature of the park, and can usually be seen circling overhead from mid-March through mid-October. Whipps’ Ledges, often cited as a traditional nesting and roosting area for the vultures, is actually rather unproductive for them; better places to look for potential roosting birds are at the Redwing Reserved Picnic Area off West Drive, and sometimes at the marked “Buzzard Roost” parking area, also on West Drive. Of course, in season any open area might provide views of dozens of vultures overhead.
All in all, Hinckley Reservation offers some very enticing birds any time of the year, but especially in summer, and during the migrations. Winter attracts fewer birds, as would be expected with any heavily-wooded area, although the conifer plantings can still be productive. Some years, Evening Grosbeaks are numerous, and hawks such as Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier have also been seen. At any time of year, many other interesting spots await investigation beyond those mentioned above; Hinckley is truly much more than “buzzards”, and begs to be explored more thoroughly.
From I-71 in Brunswick, exit eastbound on OH-303. Head east on OH-303 for about 4.5 miles to OH-606 (Hinckley Hills Road). Turn right (south) on OH-606 and go about .5 mile to Bellus Road. Turn left (east) on Bellus, and go about .25 mile to the park entrance on the right (West Drive).
Open 6 am to 11 pm daily.
Parking Areas: At all picnic areas, the boathouse, plus several small lots along West and East Drives.
Typical woodland birds; during invasion years, winter finches sometimes frequent the spruce plantings near the boathouse and elsewhere along park roads.
Very good birding during migration, especially near water and edge habitats. A moderate number of water birds stop at Hinckley Lake.
Excellent summer birding, including 12 nesting warbler species annually, plus about seven more intermittently or possibly. Areas of old spruce plantings attract nesting Red-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Blue-headed Vireos, plus Magnolia, Black-throated Green, and occasionally, Blackburnian Warblers. Hinckley Lake attracts common water birds.
The shallow eastern end of Hinckley Lake develops a modest mudflat, which attracts waders and a few shorebirds. During migration, birding is good near water and along edge habitats.
At the southern end of Cleveland Metroparks is Hinckley Reservation, the site of the nationally-known annual Return of the Buzzards. From hiking at Whipp’s Ledges to kayaking on Hinckley Lake, there are a variety of activities here for everyone.
Another attraction of the reservation is Whipp’s Ledges, with elevations rising 350 feet above Hinckley Lake and formed more than 250 million years ago.
Worden’s Ledges has unique carvings made in the 1940s by Noble Stuart, son-in-law to the namesake of the ledges, Hiram Worden. Hike the Worden’s Ledges loop trail to see the carvings.
Rising Valley, located off Newton Road, which was transferred by Hinckley Township to Cleveland Metroparks, has public access trails.
Hinckley Reservation Trails
Hinckley Lake Loop – 3.1 miles
Ledge Lake Trail – 0.7 miles
Whips Ledges Loop Trail – 0.95 miles
Hinckley Hills Trail – .4 mile
Wordens Ledges Loop Trail – 0.7 miles
Buckeye Trail – 3.6 miles
All Purpose Trail – 3.3 miles
Bridle Trails – 8.5 miles
The AllTrails website has descriptions and maps of hikes at the Hinckley Reservation.
Restrooms on site
Content from Official Website and Ohio Ornithological Society